The Mississippi College School of Law recently was featured on the Princeton Review’s Best Law Schools List for 2022. The Princeton Review is a college admissions resource for potential law students, helping future lawyers find their perfect fit for post-undergrad since 1981.
Kristian Gautier is an Assistant Director of Admissions for the Mississippi College School of Law. He spoke in an interview about the law school making an appearance on the Review’s 2022 list.
“This is a mark, a stamp of credibility. It assures our students that they are getting a high-quality education, they will be able to get a job after graduation, and they can pass their bar exam,” said Gautier, who’s also an MC alumnus.
MC Law is among big names like Yale, Harvard, and Columbia Schools of Law on the list featuring over 160 other law schools in the nation. This accolade means something special to the people of MC Law, especially the admissions office.
“Here, you will not just be another number. You’re going to be a big fish in a small pond. Our faculty has an open-door policy. They know their students by name. They have a relationship with them,” said Gautier. “An institution, an education, and the quality of it, that’s more than just academia. The culture you’re immersed in, the environment you’re surrounded [by], that’s a major part of a law student’s success.”
Peyton Pope, a second-year law student at the institution and the MC Law Admissions Student Director of Dean Ambassadors also remarked how this recognition will affect recruiting opportunities for her office.
“This third-party validation is incredibly valuable for recruiting. At Admissions, we can sit here and say that MC is a great place to study law, but to have something so big and notable as the Princeton Review come out and support what we’ve been saying, really backs up all the claims we’re making,” said Pope.
MC Law was also featured on a top 10 list for the Review for the most conservative students on campus. Mississippi College ranked #9 after law schools like Brigham Young University School of Law and Louisiana State University Law School.
While some may concede that a largely conservative student population limits the opportunity for inclusivity and diversity, MC staff doesn’t think so.
“A major part of our law school is promoting a culture of diversity and inclusion. We want our students to know they are getting more than just education here,” said Gautier. “They are, in essence, getting a mindset change and a community with that degree.”
Speaking on the many qualifications MC Law brings to the table, John Pyles, Vice President of the Student Body at the law school, outlined numerous unique features of MC Law. Among those he mentioned were MC Law’s dedication to community service and authentic faculty/staff-student relationships.
“There’s a tangible difference in how they [professors] view people. The faculty really cares. That sense of relationship comes out of the Christian background of MC Law,” Pyles said. “That’s different from a lot of law schools. You won’t feel that same warmth from professors and the administration. This is a culture of caring for others and of love that is rooted in Christ.”
The main role of Pyles’s student body office is to serve the community and implement opportunities for outreach for students to be of use to the area they may be practicing law in later in their careers.
“In the past year, our law school has partnered with the Jackson Public Schools, and I think we’ve made an impact there. We also collaborate with the Barack Obama Magnet School,” said Pyles, who’s a second-year law student. “Now, every Friday we participate in what is called the Helping Hands Program. We do volunteer work like reading books in classrooms, grounds maintenance, unloading U-Haul palettes full of water, and anything else they need from us.”
The Jackson Public School partnership with MC Law’s student body garnered an award for itself. The Mississippi Association in Partners of Education (MAPE) announced in early March that the JPS-MC Law relationship was recognized as one of 14 recipients to receive the 2022 Mississippi Governor’s Office Awards for school-community partnerships.
Factors that influence the Princeton Review’s selection process for the Best Law Schools list include student success after graduating. A strong alumni network and the location of MC Law allow for students to network themselves and set up professional connections early on in their law school careers.
“Because MC Law is at the heart of Jackson, students get to work a lot with the state legislature, in courtroom settings, etc. Even our adjunct professors at the school are practicing lawyers and judges, actual law professionals in the community,” said Pope.
The downtown Jackson location of Mississippi College Law is integral for their law students to have important employment opportunities and personal networking.
“We are the only law school located in the capital of Mississippi, which means we are in the legal hub of the state. In a two-square-mile radius, over 48% of the practicing attorneys or people who work in the legal field in Mississippi occupy our surrounding area,” Gautier said. “A lot of our students walk out of the front of our building down the sidewalk to their internships for that afternoon or to the job they work after class.”
While notoriety of the institution, like the Princeton Review list, is warmly welcomed, MC Law isn’t necessarily just after that sort of buzz. On an institutional level, the consensus is not actually about chasing a “legacy of excellence” or striving for awards or accolades. It’s simply doing honest work driven by a passion to serve others through the law.
“The faculty and staff at MC Law … [encourage] just doing a good job, loving what you do, doing it the right way, and then that legacy of excellence will follow,” said Pope. “Titles and awards are exciting, but their goal is just to do right by the students, make sure they are actually learning and can go out into the world to become good people and, subsequently, good lawyers.”
Having many varying perspectives on the “grayness” of American law, as cited by Pyles as a benefit of diversified teaching staff, has enabled many students to leave with a well-rounded education and a more empathetic view of humanity.
“We have an extraordinary thing here. You wouldn’t think it from a little building in downtown Jackson, Mississippi,” said Pyles.
The diversity in perspective and professional experience of the staff, a rich emphasis on community service, and overall academic success all play a role in the cadence of rhythms that reverberate from a law school in Mississippi to the Princeton Review headquarters in New York City.
“When a law student graduates from Mississippi College School of Law they will know that [their degree] is a significant achievement,” said Gautier.